Introducing the Minis . . . And More
We are pleased to announce the release of The Writing Code Minis.
This set of 14 ebooks by Charles Euchner outline, step by step, all the skills you need to write well. Each short ebook — usually between 8,000 and 12,000 words — explains a cluster of related skills.
For a limited time, you can download these books on Kindle for just 99 cents. You can read them on your Kindle, iPad, or smartphone. For half the price of a Starbucks coffee, you can get everything you need to understand the Golden Rule of Writing … or storytelling … or action and scenes … or sentences and paragraphs … or editing … or nine other critical skills of writing.
You can also get a complete set of all 14 titles, in one place, in The Writing Code, for $9.99. Just click the image on the left to get a savings of more than 25 percent.
The complete set of Minis will be available on Amazon by the middle of September. Check back here — or sign up for our newsletter, on the upper right — to see when new titles are posted.
The Writing Code Minis: What You Need, When You Need It
The Golden Rule of Writing: What if you could master every challenge of writing — building great sentences and paragraphs, constructing compelling stories, explaining complex concepts — with one very simple principle? You can. It’s called The Golden Rule of Writing. This simple imperative is based on two of our primary qualities as humans: (1) We love stories and see the world as a series of journeys, and (2) we need a sense of completion in every experience. When you understand these simple truths — and how to apply them — you will have a guide to solve just about every writing challenge you face.
Storytelling: To connect with any audience – in business, journalism, academe, and beyond – tell a story. Stories bring order to the world and excite us. You will never meet a person who doesn’t like telling or hearing great stories. To write a compelling narrative, you need to master a number of simple skills. Starting with the “narrative arc” that Aristotle outlined 2,500 years ago, give your story a structure that makes the experience whole. Show characters hitting “brick walls,” struggling to achieve some great objective. And create plots that create closure for the hero – and the reader.
Characters: People like watching people. As a storyteller, then, you need to give the reader compelling, surprising, and sympathetic characters. The best character starts with a ”dossier,” a complete inventory of the character’s background, experiences, desires, and values. We need to explore the character’s psyche, the unique mix of visible and invisible qualities that make him who he is. Then you need to see them in action with other types of people. When we see a hero confronting a villain and learning from a mentor, we get a sense of his ability to act, learn, and grow.
The World of the Story: Every story takes place somewhere. The setting not only offers a “container” for the characters and action, but also reflects their values, status, understanding, and struggles. Most great stories – even sweeping epics – take place in “small, knowable places.” Our job as storytellers is to describe the places that help us get to know the characters, create open possibilities but also impose limits on the characters. Settings also help us to explore the larger community and the unfolding action – and to see what’s unusual and deserves attention.
Action and Scenes: The world, as one philosopher put it, is “one great blooming, buzzing confusion.” To grab and hold the reader’s attention, you need to create action that is both surprising and meaningful. To create these scenes, get characters to act, knowingly and unknowingly, in ways that move the story toward the end. Use “beats,” a cinematic device that makes every interaction – every nod, word, and movement – subtly alter the progression of the tale. Fill your scenes with real human desire and hesitation. And make sure that every action somehow reveals something new.
Details and Surprise: The best writing surprises. Even when exploring familiar topics, you need to show readers something they don’t already know or feel. Too often, writers provide details that give the reader nothing new. Show details that most people would not notice. And so you need to look at scenes like a magician. Rather than revealing the obvious, explore the nooks and crannies – the hidden spaces – of characters, settings, action, and scenes. Describe scenes upside-down. Write cinematically, freezing some details and putting others into action. Finally, create a scenes of wholeness.
The Structure of Writing: “The great book of Nature,” Galileo said, “is written in mathematical language and the characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures.” You could say the same about writing. Every story, essay, description or analysis needs to take a clear form. Stories usually take the shape of a narrative arc. But you can use other shapes – lines, circles, and triangles – to structure a piece. And to highlight create powerful relationships, use numbers – ones to set characters or ideas apart, twos to depict conflict or complements, and threes to reveal dynamism.
Sentences and Paragraphs: The most important unit of writing is the sentence. If you can write “one true sentence,” to use Ernest Hemingway’s term, you can write anything. Building on the foundation of The Golden Rule of Writing, this volume shows you everything you need to write good sentences, of all lengths. Good sentences also require simplicity, strong verbs, and a pleasing pace. You will also learn the key to writing a paragraph, the second most important unit of writing. Ideally, a paragraph states and develops just one idea. By using “tabloid headlines,” you can make sure that every paragraph stays on point.
Words, Words, Words: “The difference between the right word and the almost right word,” Mark Twain once said, “is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.” To find the right word, start with simplicity. But don’t stop there. Sometimes you need a longer word to write with precision. Active verbs give your writing energy and verve. Avoid adjectives and adverbs, which rarely add precision and usually annoy the reader. Above all, avoid bureaucratese and academese. And pay special attention to “function words,” words that point and connect other nouns and verbs.
Grammar: To most writers, grammar is an imposing set of abstract dos and don’ts, with exceptions that bewilder more than enlighten. In school, many of us learned how ton diagram sentences and memorized long lists of rules. But as this ebook shows, grammar is really just a simple way to coordinate your writing. This ebook offers three simple ways to think about grammar—getting along, traffic management, and being precise. We go into detail, with lots of examples, to show you how grammar enlivens writing—and keep you and your reader on track.
Editing Without Pain: For most writers, editing poses the most difficult challenge of writing. Faced with an ungainly draft—filled with problems of sentence and paragraph structure, technicalities of grammar and punctuation, spelling, and word choice—most writers work methodically from beginning to end. But this work offers a different approach. By moving from the biggest to smallest pieces of your piece, you can edit faster and more effectively. With the “Search and Destroy” system, you can catch more mistakes and avoid “melting down” from overexertion.
Writing With Style: A simple approach to giving your writing personality. The process begins with finding the right rhythm for your work. All good writing hops along like the tempo of nature. The next requirement is to connect with people’s senses of sight, sound, and feeling. Metaphors and similes offer an essential approach to helping the reader experience an idea by relating it to something different. Finally, all good style requires a spirit of play to amuse and challenge the reader. You can learn all of these skills, step by step, in this practical guide.
Analysis without Paralysis: A simple approach to analyzing issues in all fields—science, social science, philosophy and literature, and psychology. We begin with questions and brainstorming. All analysis asks a simple question: What causes what? Once we identify a slew of possible answers to questions, we can identify variables. That’s when the real work begins. If we can “operationalize” variables, we can gather factual evidence of possible answers to our questions. we can supplement statistics with testimony from experts. With all these data at hand, we can develop both small-scale and large-scale analysis.
Using Stories and Models For Analysis: Ultimately, all analysis is just storytelling at a higher level of abstraction. Stories offer accounts of “one time only” events—particular people doing particular things at particular times, with particular outcomes. Analysis shows recurring patterns of events by looking at large samples of people and things. While stories focus on the actions of characters, analysis looks at variables. Models offer a shorthand for analyzing problems in all fields. Most models simplify problems into three variables. You can use these models in both natural and human inquiry.
Other Writing Code Books
- The One-Minute Writer: A parable about a young woman who has to analyze a civil war in a company — which shows how a number of “sixty-second tricks” can not only help her write clearly but also to understand the hidden dynamics of a complex situation.
- Write Your Book: Simple strategies to write a book — and any other large project, such as a graduate thesis, an RFP or proposal, or a company annual report — with ease.
- Teaching the Six Traits: A special annotated edition of The Writing Code, with tips for teachers who use the “six traits” approach to teach writing in the classroom.
We have a number of other works in the pipeline, including:
- Write Your Way to Success in School: A simple guide to writing the best possible essay for your college application — and to succeed in class assignments. Special section: How to write for professors who don;t want you to write well.
- Write Your Way to Career Success: A strategy to use writing to get your dream job and gain the edge over colleagues through fast, clear writing.
- Write Your Way to Success in the Law: A simple guide to writing well while honoring the conventions of legal writing.